Video analytics can be one of the most valuable tools to manage a smart city as it provides much-required actionable data. Smart city technologies are meant to improve the safety and operational efficiency of urban areas. With the right video analytics solution, authorities can take proactive measures to boost security, post-incident steps for better investigations, and streamline city management.
Several video analytic companies offer solutions for city safety and management. But customers in this vertical require certain features more than others. This article explores the major video analytic features that smart and safe city customers need the most.
Identification of objects and license plate recognition
Jammy DeSousa, Senior Product Manager for Security Products at Johnson Controls, said that the most crucial analytic available to safe cities is the capability for object re-identification, sometimes referred to as Intelligent People Search.
“This analytic provides the ability to instantly search throughout a network of cameras for a suspicious person or suspected perpetrator to determine the suspect’s last known location or to build a timeline of events,” DeSousa said. “Once the suspect has been identified by the analytic, operators can run the analytic on the rest of the cameras to quickly “re-identify” the suspect in other camera footage.”
Stephanie Weagle, Chief Marketing Officer at Briefcam, points out that features that enable identifying vehicles such as license plate recognition are important in this vertical. Customers also want to feature that allows them to track people and their behavior in public places.
“In safe cities or law enforcement, the use of license plate recognition is certainly strong,” Weagle said.
For instance, to optimize parking operations, intelligent surveillance can utilize license plate recognition analytics to digitize parking lot occupancy and eliminate or reduce the use of parking ticket systems and parking barriers. A smart camera equipped with LPR analytics can identify a specific vehicle, detect stay duration, and integrate with online payment systems for a fully digital experience.
Traffic operations management features
Smart cities start with intelligent and informed planning. This is where video analytics can once again provide valuable business intelligence. AI video analytics can analyze long-term traffic data and enable sustainable planning for road layout and control.
“Over time, these analytics can capture and digitize traffic insights from activity on roads and junctions, offering a more efficient way to capture and interact with traffic patterns,” explains Kai Bisgwa, Vice President Sales & Business Development at Security and Safety Things. “These same cameras can conversely use analytics to enhance pedestrian and biker safety, by monitoring vehicle adherence to pedestrian rights-of-way, as well as determining if speeds need to be lowered to accommodate an increase in pedestrian foot traffic, or if a bike lane would better suit traffic flow. They can also help determine if more crosswalks are needed, or if there is a danger of jaywalking from pedestrians.”
Alerts on specific events
Besides alerts on common issues like accidents, some cities use video analytics to meet their unique requirements. DeSousa pointed out that a major city in Asia needed to detect if people were illegally fishing in a city reservoir and deployed an analytic that detected humans making a casting motion. Others add that tracking suspicious behavior of any sort is essential to customers.
“The ability to understand where people or vehicles should or shouldn’t be, and alerting if something looks suspicious, is important,” Weagle said. “Suspicious behavior could be things like when a pickup truck crosses into a parking lot when there is no attendant. Other instances include alerting line crossing or identifying crowding, whether that’s pedestrian or traffic, to understand if the traffic patterns need to be adjusted.”
Secure and optimized parking lots and garages are another element of smart and safe cities. Traffic monitoring in safe cities isn’t just about the flow of vehicles and pedestrian motion. A vehicle that drives through a red traffic light is easy to recognize, but a vehicle parked in a parking lot longer than allowed can often remain undetected.
“Another concern is the unauthorized use of parking spaces reserved for disabled persons,” Bisgwa said. “Smart cameras can monitor parking lots for unauthorized traffic in public parking spaces – enhancing operations that are often complex and costly. Video analytic applications can use computer vision methods to identify when a parking violation has occurred, and once detected, a notification with a snapshot of the event is sent to parking operators or authorities.”
There are a few other features worth mentioning. Amol Kulkarni, VP and Country Head of Dragonfruit AI, said that the ability to summarize long videos, quickly search for objects of interest, and alerts for crowd formation, loitering, violence are some of the most sought-after features in safe cities.
Smart cities look for alerts on crowding and traffic conditions reports on civil administration duties like garbage pickup, street cleaning, etc. Smoke and fire detection is also an upcoming area of interest, although traditional fire systems continue to dominate this segment.